Sunday, 28 July 2013

New churches of July

True to my duty as an itinerant altar server, over these past two weeks I was able to add three new churches to my list, each with its own story!

Saturday, 13 July
The first church of the three is not a "church" at all, but rather the chapel of the local house of the Sisters of Mercy.  Being a friend with one of the sisters, I was invited to come join them for morning Mass and breakfast.  Really, the story is as simple as that.  The celebrant was Fr. Horn, rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. The Mass went smoothly, with a mix of Latin and English responses accompanied by organ.  The only mishap was when Father, seeing the sisters assembled and ready,  decided to start Mass early and signalled the organist to start playing -- not realising that I had not yet finished vesting!  But if that is the worst of the problems then the Mass went well, rightThe breakfast which followed was delicious (bacon, waffles, and fruit), and the company of the sisters and Father was wonderful!
(Yes, I did summarise it in only one paragraph.  Hard to believe, I know!)

Sunday, 21 July
The second church is Little Flower Catholic Church, which has a weekly Extraordinary Form Mass at 9:15.  As a family we decided to go, and as an itinerant altar server I decided to insert myself into the sacristy and attempt to serve.  I was received with gracious confusion, as they tried to figure out if they needed me, and over the span of a few moments my assignment varied from "we are fine, thanks anyway" to "can you be thurifer?" until finally setting on "you can be boat bearer".
The Mass itself was a Missa Cantata, but the rubrics were implemented quite differently than they are at other churches with which I am familiar, so I spent most of the Mass "winging" it, a technique I described in a previous post.  My station was "in the sacristy" with the thurifer, from whence we would emerge (through different doors each time) when needed at the altar, and then after the Canon, "in the pews" with the laity (whilst still in vestments), with reception of Holy Communion at the altar rail.
In a way, I feel as if I were more of a hindrance to their routine than a help . . . but they were thankful anyway.

Saturday, 28 July
The third church comes prefaced with a story.  My normal routine is to serve an 8:00 private Mass at St. Mary of Victories Chapel, but due to an incorrectly set clock at church, I showed up to find Father just finishing Mass, instead of preparing to begin.  After a brief dialogue I jumped in my car and hurried across town to St. Francis de Sales Oratory,in hopes of making it on time for their 8:00 Mass, but to no avail.  Determining I was still "on time enough" to receive Holy Communion, I stayed for Mass, but decided I would go elsewhere to hear an additional full Mass.  Consulting my mental matrix of Mass schedules, I realised that my only reasonable option was to go to 9:30 Mass at St. Alphonsus Liguori "Rock" Catholic Church (so titled since it is exteriorly built entirely of stone, including the spire), home of the Redemptorists.

I have been to this Mass in the past, and normally there are only a handful of laity in attendance, and it is in a small chapel of the rectory.  However upon arriving around 9:00, I came across a crowd of people waiting outside the door, and upon enquiry, I found that I had stumbled across a special pilgrimage group visiting the church for the Year of Faith indulgence, and that the Mass would be in the main church.  Having nothing to lose, I grabbed my vestments and waited in the sacristy until Father arrived, who then consented to letting me serve (whilst also asking quizzically how I came to be associated with the group, since I was probably 50 years younger than any of its members).

    The Mass itself was . . . interesting.  There was ample conversation, and the Mass just kind of fit in-between it.  Parts of the Mass were said from the altar, parts from the sedilia, and parts from down in the pews . . . leaving me having to chase Father through the church, whilst still finding proper places to situate myself.  Then came the Canon.  Everything was going smoothly, until right at the Hanc Igitur, when suddenly the familiar sound of the AT&T Ringtone sounded out in the sanctuary, since Father had forgotten to silence his cell phone!  He kept going as if nothing were happening, but I mused afterwards that it was the most interesting Sanctus bell I had ever heard!  (To his credit though, the Mass largely stuck close to the rubrics.)

    After Mass when most everyone had left, I remained to finish my server duties.  Returning to the sacristy with the cruets, I was unable to find the piscina and so figured I would find a plant to serve the purpose.  Opening the sacristy door labelled with a large, "Do not lock" sign, I spy a plant right off to the side and step out to pour out the cruet, and then upon returning discover the sign was a lie.  "No big deal," I figure, "I can just go back through the main door of church."  Also locked.  So now here I am, in a bad neighbourhood, standing outside in my lace vestments, car keys locked inside the church, holding an empty water cruet.  Alas.  Having no other options, I followed the pilgrim group, in vestments, to their breakfast reception, and eventually tracked down a staff member with a key.

    One final, neat fact about the church is that they have a major relic of St. Abundantius, a fourth century Roman martyr, enshrined in one of their side altars.  Apparently it came from the 19th century when it was given to them as a stipend for a mission, by a parish too poor to afford the normal stipend.  Such interesting stories old parishes have!

So with those three, my count now stands at 48 total, having served at 46 locations and lectored-but-not-served in 2.

Datum S. Ludovici, die XVI mensis Augusti, in festo S. Joachim Confessoris, anno MMXIII.

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